In February 2018 Serkan Golge, a NASA researcher who holds dual Turkish-American citizenship, was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison by Turkish authorities due to his alleged involvement in the attempted coup in July 2016, as well as to his links to the Gulen movement. Following the announcement of the verdict earlier this year, Dr. Golge had an appeal hearing on September 19, during which the Turkish Court of Appeals rejected Golge's release but reduced his sentence to five years.
US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert announced in a public statement that the US welcomes the Turkish Court of Appeals' decision to reduce Dr. Golge's sentence. However, she added, "We continue to believe that the case against Dr. Golge lacks credible evidence and that he should be freed immediately to be reunited with his family. We will continue to follow Dr. Golge's case closely, along with other unjust prosecutions against US citizens and our own locally employed staff at Mission Turkey."
Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the professional retaliation against scientists and academics, whose rights to academic freedom and to free expression and association are expressly protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both to which Turkey is party.
The ongoing tensions in Turkey have a profoundly destructive effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education and scientific contribution on both a national and international scale. We at Endangered Scholars Worldwide urge Turkish officials to honor their constitutional obligations to protect the civil, political, and academic freedom of scholars and scientists.